Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Learning Series: Children Museums

Every child loves summer. Summer is a time for playing outside, swimming in the pool, and hanging out with your friends. Unfortunately, summer is also a time when kids lose a lot of what they learned during the previous year of school. As an elementary school teacher, it was frustrating to watch my students struggle at the beginning of each year with objectives that they had mastered the previous year. As a parent, I want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to my children. This summer, I will be setting aside a little time each day for some fun learning activities for my kids.  Hopefully, they will have so much fun they won't be worried about practicing their reading, writing, and arithmetic! If you are interested in guest posting for this summer learning series, just shoot me an email at betweenthelines-kam at hotmail dot com.


Children Museums are great ways to encourage learning during the hot summer months. Not only are they a great break from the extreme heat, but they also encourage exploration and discovery. This past week the girls and I traveled to a discovery museum in West Virginia. Although, it isn’t as big as the ones in Richmond or Baltimore, it is an excellent place to set the kids loose and learn.

This particular discovery center is broken down into different themed rooms. The first room the kids explored was the air and water room. Here the kids learned about the water cycle, rivers, waterfalls, and the power of wind. I think they all had the most fun playing in the water, but they also enjoyed using air tubes to make music and ping pong balls fly.

The second room the kids discovered was all about sight. There were various rainbow activities to explore, optical illusions, and light activities. The girls particularly loved the light exhibit. In this exhibit the girls would stand in a dark room and strike a pose. Then a light would flash and their shadows would appear on the wall for them to see. Unfortunately, I couldn't take a picture of their fun shadow poses because of my flash.

The third room they explore was themed around space, gravity, and magnets. They had a lot to explore, but the girls spent the majority of the time dropping golf balls down a long winding ramp. So fun and so loud! They also enjoyed the exhibit where they could create their own constellations. My eldest daughter made a constellation that spelled her sister’s name.

The next room was a big hit. It was themed around plants and minerals. The kids were able to plant their own vegetable and flower garden. After harvesting their crop, they were able to take it into the playhouse and cut them up and serve them. The room also was full of “jewels” that they could explore with magnify glasses.

The fifth room was themed around animals. The kids explored the life cycle of a butterfly, the foot prints of many local animals, and the life of a honey bee. In this room, they had a “hive” of bees working to make honey. The girls enjoyed using the magnify glasses to get a close of view of the bees at work. They even found the queen bee!

The sixth room was dedicated to birds and the animals of the sea. There were various eggs to examine and sea creatures to explore. They enjoyed pretending to sit in the giant nest and listening to bird calls. My youngest found an eye spy tube and sat content for quite awhile.

The final room was filled with live animals. The girls had a chance to watch the caretaker feed the fish, turtles, and birds. They most enjoyed discovering the salt water animals. On the outside of the tank was a list of all the animals, and they turned it into an eye spy game.

If you live anywhere near Inwood, WV, I suggest you check out the Nature center at Jay Dees Fun Center. If not, look up children’s museum in your area. If you are lucky enough to live in an area close to several, they have a hopper membership that is good towards 100’s of museums all over the country. This summer, we already have plans to visit three more .  Have you discovered any great Children’s Museum’s? What was your child’s favorite part? Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion!

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